The ear plugs aren't helping; in fact, they're making it worse, because he can hear the foam rasping against his skin when he breathes. He pulls them out and moans as noise spikes and stabs and roars around him, an indistinguishable blur of sound that gives way as his busy, bustling, stupid fucking brain categorizes and identifies the unwanted, unneeded data.
Blair appears by the side of his bed and Jim glares at him, knowing now what those dozen thumps, profound and jarring, had been. The man climbs the stairs like a herd of elephants.
"Too loud," Jim explains in a hoarse whisper.
"What is?" Blair's voice is a gentle exhalation and yet it triggers something and Jim's spiraling wildly down into madness, hearing magnified, amplified, impossibly further.
He can hear Blair's body: whoosh and grumble, slosh and bubble, a myriad earthy, organic sounds robbed of their inherent humor, dangerous, even, because he's drowning in the surge of blood, stabbed by the prickle of oxygen against the hairs inside Blair's nose, battered by the grinding crunch of Blair's teeth as he closes his mouth in an attempt to be quiet.
"Get away from me," he gasps, and curls in on himself, warding Blair off. "I can hear you -- inside, you -- body -- blood -- God --"
Blair achieves the stillness Jim's always associated with a corpse and it's not enough, because inside the bag of flesh, the sticks of bones, all is movement and motion.
Blair's asks him something, and it's agony and torture, every word, and he'd always thought Blair liked him, dammit --
"… yourself, Jim, can you hear yourself?"
It's a weird enough question that it penetrates the terror of wondering if suppose he stays like this, suppose it won't go away? He spares a thought, synapses firing, click, flare, burn, and no, not really. His own heart is beating, sure; beating swift and scared, but it's not the deep bass reverberation and boom of Blair's.
"No, not me… just you. Get away…"
Blair's moving and he steels himself for the retreating footsteps, but there are only two and they bring Blair to the edge of the bed.
Blair's getting closer.
For a moment, he truly thinks Blair's trying to kill him, and despair, fear-fuelled, rips though him, but he's too lost in the hell of the creak of the bed to fight him off.
Blair fits his body to Jim's, skin on skin, blankets him quickly, efficiently, and the tempest turns to an aching silence with an abruptness that's the final pain to be endured.
Jim can't comprehend the relative silence that follows; it's too vast, too tenuous a respite, surely.
Blair's quiet, his breathing regular, his encompassing arms still, the cotton of his shorts, his only clothing, felt against Jim's bare thighs as fabric, washed-soft, not sandpaper, steel wool.
Jim releases the breath he'd taken to fuel a scream and hears it hiss out, a small sound, safe.
"Mmm?" Blair says and Jim nods weakly.
And doesn't think about anything; not Blair close enough that he counts as part of Jim; not the worry that if Blair moves away, even an inch, it'll start again.
Just listens, drowsy with relief, to the distant, quickening sound of Blair's heartbeat and wonders why it isn't slowing down now the crisis is over.
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